the University's a stage
Gantz, sporting a Hawaiian shirt (second row, left), is one
of the founders of the student improv group, The Whethermen.
Hes pictured here with five of the other six members of
the cast who are graduating. They are (front row, left to right):
Laura Personick, Ryan Blackledge, Margaret Mincks; (second row,
right): Barry Hite; and (top row) Greg Pokusa. Not pictured
is graduating member Jon Blake.
performance groups, founded by three graduating students, have enriched
the arts at the University and given students alternative theatrical
voices on Grounds.
Steven Shepard is the common thread for the two groups, Spectrum
Theater and the Whethermen, which he created with Kevin Neher and
Patrick Gantz, respectively.
Theater co-founders, Shepard (government and foreign affairs) and
Neher (government and economics) joined their talents to produce
a multi-racial production of Romeo and Juliet to address
issues of racial divide they saw as first-year students.
on his acting and directing experience at Thomas Jefferson High
School for Science and Technology in Great Falls, Va., Shepard was
the groups artistic director. Neher, a Richmond native, contributed
his organizational and fundraising skills.
bring the racial groups together and make the project a success,
they enlisted the help of another University group, the Paul Robeson
Players. We saw the project as a venue for the diverse student
body to interact, said Shepard.
project was an overwhelming success. More than 2,400 students attended
the performances followed by panel discussions on race issues.
Romeo and Juliet, the student company, adopting the
name Spectrum Theater, continued to produce issue-oriented programs.
1999 they looked to the incoming class for inspiration and produced
Voices of the Class. Through readings, monologues, skits
and musical numbers based on admission essays, they painted a portrait
of the class that answered the question, Who are we?
The production was so successful, it is now a regular feature of
the new-student Orientation Program. Full story.
Waters and her daughter, Kelsey
mission runs deep
Waters has been a bus driver, a consultant, a teacher, a wife and
a mother all while working toward a dual degree in history
and teaching from U.Va. Its been a 20-year trek to her procession
on the Lawn May 20.
37, credits her educational success to supportive teachers, such
as Eleanor Wilson, assistant professor of education in U.Va.s
Curry School of Education. Wilson taught Waters as part of the Piedmont
Virginia Community College/U.Va. teaching fellows program.
Wilson: Karen represents and epitomizes the best of our future
teachers. She extended herself in a variety of quiet yet significant
ways to help and mentor other students.
her efforts, Waters received U.Va.s outstanding master
of teaching award in April.
jobs also helped Waters attain her degree. One such job included
a stint as a Jaunt bus driver for elderly and disabled residents
on weekends and nights. For safety reasons, Waters donned boyish-looking
attire during night shifts as she and her sleeping daughter traveled
the city and surrounding counties.
addition to her for-pay jobs, Waters has spent time volunteering
in several area schools and been involved in more than a dozen civic
organizations. Shes also not afraid to stand up for her rights.
rental fees were waived while she was president of U.Va.s
Housing Association at Copeley Hill, Waters took on the administration
to get lead-based paint removed from their buildings. U.Va.s
Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
intervened, and the lead-abatement project was successful. That
act led Waters to a position representing state Sen. Emily Couric
at forums and meetings until last summer.
other nontraditional U.Va. students, Waters was hesitant about returning
to college because she hadnt done well during a previous attempt
in 1980. Friends and colleagues at various places where she worked
and volunteered encouraged her to enroll at PVCC. Full